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The Sociology of Religion - Max Weber

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John Doe

on 24 February 2011

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Transcript of The Sociology of Religion - Max Weber

Born April 21, 1864, Erfurt, Germany
Died June 14, 1920, Munich, Germany father = aspiring liberal politician
mother = raised in Calvinist Orthodoxy Professor in political economy at Freiburg
Attained that position at Heidelberg in 1896
Worked with the left-liberal Protestant Social Union The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Weber's best known and most controversial work Argues that the "spirit" that defines capitalist institutions has its roots in the Protestant Reformation A study of the relationship between the ethics of ascetic Protestantism and the emergence of the spirit of modern capitalism Weber's goal is to understand the source of this "spirit" Empirical and Theoretical Arguments Empirical: Based on experiment or observation and describes facts that can be proven

Theoretical: Speculate; give meaning to empirical observations Weber claims that Protestants are more involved in capitalistic activity than Catholics based on his observations. (Empirical) Hoping to acquire accurate information, Weber looks into the "spirit" of capitalism and ascetic Protestantism. (Empirical)

Weber then tries to give an explanation using this acquired information. (Theoretical) Weber notices a correlation between ascetic Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism. (Theoretical) What could explain this connection? Weber views his data through a theoretical lens. How does this change how we view religion?
can create social values
can influence social institutions
not just about its founders and followers Super Short Summary of
weber's analysis 1) Weber notes that business leaders and higher skilled laborers are primarily Protestant 2) Weber aims to uncover the cause of this behavior 3) Weber thinks that there might be a correlation between the ascetic Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism

4) Benjamin Franklin's writings are presented by Weber to illustrate the ethos of capitalism

5) Weber searches for the origins of capitalism.
-Why did people have such a calling to make money?
- Was religion involved in its development?
- Why did capitalism prosper?
Your Questions Amanda: The article states "A man does not "by nature" wish to earn more and more money, but simply to live as he is accustomed to live and to earn as much as is necessary for the purpose." Are we indeed this easily satisfied? Does this apply to other aspects of our lives other than money- such as religion? It is the traditionalist's point of view, a large
influence in pre-capitalistic times. In order to increase productivity, the employer raises the rate of pay. However, a frequent problem is that rather than work harder, the workers actually work less when pay increases. They do this because they can reduce their workload and still make the same amount of money. "He did not ask: how much can I earn in a day if I do as much work as possible? but: how much must I work in order to earn the wage, 2 1/2 marks, which I earned before and which takes care of my traditional needs?" This reflects traditionalism, and shows that "by nature" man simply wants to live as he is used to living, and earn as much as is necessary to do this. This is the traditionalist perspective of pre-capitalistic times. It was thought that "by nature", humans wanted to simply work enough to earn the amount of money that would maintain their lifestyles.

Common Problem:
The employer raised rates of pay to increase labor, but the workers worked less because they could receive the same amount of pay to meet their traditional needs while reducing their workload.

What do you think: Does man simply do the bare minimum amount of work in their religious life in order to connect with the cosmos? Why was it important to compare Protestants and Catholics in terms of their choice of labor (ie: crafts, factories)? Natalie Sheary: Weber is trying to figure out why higher skilled laborers are primarily Protestant. While it could originate historically, from tradition, or from participation in capitalism, Weber tries to dig a little deeper into societal phenomena. By observing Protestant and Catholic tendencies to work in certain fields of labor, Weber is theorizing as to whether this may be connected to their economic activity. Weber makes some very broad statements about what "all Catholics" do and what "all Protestants" do. To what extent should such generalizations be accepted? Courtney/Christopher: These were empirical arguments that Weber used to develop his theories. Most frequently, they were based on his observations in Germany. We should note though, that many have criticized his observations and speculated against his claims. Margaret: Is this suggesting that the 'spirit of capitalism' is a parallel between the Protestant traditions and faith suggesting that if one is successful econonically that they also have a stronger faith and higher religious beliefs? Natalie Beck: How does studying the relationship between Capitalism and Protestantism better define religion? Weber's writing changes the way we view religion. He shows us that religion might have the ability to influence unrelated institutions and promote social change. Weber shows us that we can find religion in uncommon areas. You're onto something! In the Protestant tradition, particularly Calvanism, the concept of a "worldly calling" is offered. Calvanists believed that earning money pursuing a “calling” was a sign of God’s blessing and one's predestination to Heaven. In capitalism, persuing and earning money is a reflection of one's virtue and proficiency in the calling of their profession. See the parallel? MAX WEBER what could weber have done differently?

Do you think that if Weber had taken a quantiative approach and included more numerical evidence that his claims would have more validity?

would you have found it to be more helpful if weber had defined the "spirit" of capitalism at the very beginning? Bibliography

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Routledge, 1997.

SparkNotes Editors. (n.d.). SparkNote on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/protestantethic/

Razza. (Photographer). Max weber photograph. [Web]. Retrieved from http://myeasymba.blogspot.com/2010/10/bureauctatic-management-general.html Some main points Difference in professional career of Protestants and Catholics:
Due to the mental and spiritual peculiarities acquired from the environment.
The principal explanation must be sought in the permanent intrinsic character of their religious beliefs. The aesetic character of Catholicism must have brought up an indifference to the greater indifference toward the good things of this world.
The Protestant prefers to eat well
The Catholic prefers to sleep undisturbed Benjamin Franklin's ethos:
The idea of the duty of the individual toward the increase of capital, an end in itself. The most important opponent to the spirit of capitalism is traditionalism; "The chances of overcoming traditionalism are greatest on account of the religious upbringing." "We are here particularly interested in the origin of...the conception of a calling."
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